The T20 Cricket tournament of 2016 was one that turned around to be pretty different from trends of the past. I have to admit I was thrilled to see the Australian and Indian teams being knocked out of the game. India got to the semi-finals, Australia didn’t. Why was I thrilled? In my eyes both teams are not about sportsmanship but rather pretty arrogant. I know God’s Word says that He exalts the humble and He humbles the proud.
During the tournament as usual we see people cheering on their own teams. Some get quite patriotic too and I’m talking about Christians as well. They want THEIR national team to win NO MATTER WHAT and no matter HOW either – to them it doesn’t matter if bribes, cheating, match-fixes are a part of it, it doesn’t matter if there is no sportsmanship; arrogant attitudes are cheered on.
Yes, I have also lived in Australia, and I’m born in Sri Lanka, spent my early childhood in the UK and I am also a citizen of Canada and New Zealand. So who do I support?
I back the Black Caps not only because I’m a Kiwi but also because 1) the Black Caps are real sportsman and I want that to be rewarded 2) New Zealand gave us a safe place to live and it was beautiful to be away from all the racism and war trauma that we had to suffer in Sri Lanka at that time. Going to school through bombs holding our lives in our hands, hiding in bunkers or under the tables at night – life those few years were terrible. My dad was able to migrate at the time based on occupational grounds. So I will always hold a soft spot, a place of gratitude for the nation.
It was fascinating to see the FB newsfeed during the finals. With their own national teams being out of the scene, people had to choose which team they were to cheer and support. The choices were England and West Indies. Many chose the latter – and so did I. It was indeed beautiful to see this praying team win the cup! It brought me to tears to know that some of them had knelt down and given thanks once they got the victory too!
As a believer, I was thinking how many of us supported West Indies from the word go! Many chose patriotism over believers. Own ethnic group, ‘blood’ was given preference over the FAMILY of God! How does reading that make you feel?
When you think about it what is the root cause for prejudices and discrimination? Doesn’t it boil down to ethnicity / nationality and of course money? Then why do we as believers become PATRIOTIC? Americans and Indians are very strong in this area – taking pride in their nationality. As Christians, is this fitting for us?
Jesus told the disciples to GO.. to go into Jerusalem, all Judea, Samaria and to the ends of the world. It’s a rippling effect… Jerusalem was their ‘base’… then spreading out of their town into the entire region of Judea, Next was to reach out to their neighbours and mind you the Jews and Samaritans were hostile towards each other to the extent that Jews wouldn’t travel through Samaria but take the long route around them, rocky difficult paths prolonging their journey by a few days. That was better to them than going through Samaria. Here Jesus comes along and commissions the disciples to go TO them, not even just THROUGH them but to TO them.
Then of course the ripple keeps spreading out to the point of reaching to the whole world..
The more we spread our wings, the more we leave our comfort zones – the more we are broken as a people of the world but we become to learn God’s heartbeat more intensely. Prejudices, discriminational attitudes begin to break down.. We have to learn to adjust to where we are, things are done differently from the way we would do things.. and thus we learn our way IS NOT the highway, what we do isn’t necessarily RIGHT or not the only way.. We become more embracing of others.
I think of Paul who was a Jew as well as a Roman citizen, writing
But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body – Philippians 3:20-21
Paul had the right perspective.. He saw life on earth as temporary.. as passing through a place. He saw life on earth as a dot on a never ending timeline of eternity, infinity. Paul knew the purpose to be a ‘resident’ on earth was to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God leading to the citizenship of forever in heaven. And those who refuse to make the choice to seek Him first will have the citizenship of forever in hell. Paul’s focus wasn’t on ‘me me me’ and on here on earth.. He was not patriotic of the temporary earthly nationalities and citizenships.. but of the permanent heavenly citizenship.
I stand guilty when I write this – even though I’m not patriotic as such and I don’t have a sense of belonging given my life experiences. Yet nonetheless I stand guilty. Did I support West Indies right from the word ‘GO’? Did I support my family of believers, a family who were seeking God every step of the way.. not just before the match but even in their victory a family of believers who immedlately knelt down in the middle of the stadium to give thanks to God recognising His favour and will in this.
What do you put first? Your nation or the family of God? If we truly belonged to the family of God would we be patriotic, would we be basing our identity on nationality?